history

History, Lower East Side, Museums

Students from Camp Henry at the exhibit, courtesy of The Henry Street Settlement

In honor of its 125th anniversary, the Henry Street Settlement, the community hub and social services organization at 265 Henry Street, has mounted a new permanent exhibit in its historic 1830 landmarked headquarters. “The House on Henry Street” is a multi-media exhibit that highlights the legacy of the Settlement’s founder, Lillian Wald, and explores over a century of social activism, urban poverty, and public health on the Lower East Side through the lens of the Settlement’s own history. Incorporating archival photos, video and sound recordings, historic objects, and quotations from both settlement workers and clients, the exhibit distills over a century of history into a stunningly rich and deeply moving meditation on the vital importance of community-oriented social activism.

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Features, History, Lower East Side

Henry Street Nurses, courtesy of The Henry Street Settlement

In 1893, the 26-year-old nurse Lillian Wald founded the Lower East Side’s Henry Street Settlement, and what would become the Visiting Nurse Service of New York. Two years of nursing school had given her the “inspiration to be of use some way or somehow,” and she identified “four branches of usefulness” where she could be of service. Those four branches, “visiting nursing, social work, country work and civic work,” helped guide the Settlement’s programming, and turned Wald’s home at 265 Henry Street into a center of progressive advocacy, and community support, that attracted neighbors from around the corner, and reformers from around the world.

Learn about Lillian

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Features, History, Technology, Williamsburg

Willis Carrier, Air conditioning, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, inventions, history

Shown in the Carrier plant in 1922, the first centrifugal chiller opened the door to large-scale comfort air conditioning. Image courtesy of United Technologies/Carrier.

It figures, but history shows us yet another way Brooklyn was cool, like, forever–though this particular example is a bit more literal. A classic New York City heat wave was just enough to turn up the Brooklyn ingenuity in a junior engineer named Willis Carrier, who devised a system of fans, ducts, heaters and perforated pipes that became the world’s first air conditioner. The problem: blistering temperatures that were literally melting the equipment in a Williamsburg printing house. The solution was one that had eluded centuries of inventors through sweltering summers. The system was installed in the summer of 1902, according to the New York Times, and Carrier went on to found Carrier Corporation. He had hit on the idea while walking in the fog.

It’s the humidity

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Features, History, Hotels, Midtown West

Algonquin Hotel

In a town overrun with fancy hotels, the Algonquin–which turns 112 tomorrow–has true staying power, proving that history and heritage are every bit as important as plush bedding and sweet-smelling bath products.

Designed by Goldwin Starrett in a Renaissance limestone and red brick façade, the 12-story Algonquin Hotel, at 42 West 42nd Street, opened on November 22, 1902, initially operating as an apartment hotel with year-long leases but switching to a hotel after the owner failed to find enough renters. Today, the Algonquin–both a literary landmark and a New York City Historic Landmark–remains one of New York’s most cherished institutions, drawing a mix of artists, tourists and cultural elites.

Read the full history of the storied Algonquin

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